Security Challenges
Volume 16, No.2 (2020)

Strategy at Sea: A Plan B for Australian Maritime Security?

In 2004, a Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade inquiry report into Australia’s Maritime Strategy recommended the Australian Defence Force (ADF) implement a “modern maritime strategy”. Chairman of the Defence sub-committee, Bruce Scott, wrote that the committee was “convinced that an effective maritime strategy will be the foundation of Australia’s military strategy, and serve Australia well, into the 21st century”. Written at a time when the focus of the ADF was on the ‘war on terror’ and the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, the 151 page report highlighted gaps in Australia’s maritime strategic thinking. Defining maritime strategy as one that involves “air, sea and land forces operating jointly to influence events in the littoral together with traditional blue water maritime concepts of sea denial and sea control”, the report listed three elements: sea denial, sea control, and power projection. Experts argued that Australia’s existing strategy constituted mere ‘sea denial’ effectively a continentalist approach with maritime dimensions, designed primarily to prevent adversaries from attacking territory.

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